Can I Use Honey For Kennel Cough?

Is honey a cure for kennel cough? ¹

Most people use honey to treat a sore throat and many other respiratory problems, but can you also give honey to your dog? This is one of the first ideas that comes to mind when your four-legged friend has a cough. For instance, can I use honey for kennel cough? The good news is that yes, honey does wonders for dogs, too. 

In this article we’ll have a look at how much honey you should give your ailing pet and what other natural remedies or medicines you could use to cure his nasty kennel cough.

What is kennel cough?

The noises your dog makes when he gets a cough can be quite scary, but if it’s kennel cough he’s suffering from, this condition is easily curable and won’t have any long-term effects.

Kennel cough is the common name for what doctors call canine infectious tracheobronchitis. The disease affects the upper respiratory tract, causing an inflammation of the larynx and the trachea. Fortunately, it rarely affects the lungs.

The disease can be caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria. The main culprit is the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria, This is the reason why the disease is often referred to as Bordetella, instead of kennel cough. 

The bacteria finds a good host in a dog that is already infected with some type of virus, such as:

  • Canine adenovirus
  • Canine distemper virus
  • Canine herpes virus
  • Parainfluenza virus
  • Canine reovirus

If any of these viruses is present in the lining of the dog’s throat it destroys the mucus that coats the trachea, so the Bordetella bacteria find a fertile ground to multiply.

What are the most common symptoms of kennel cough?

The first sign you’ll notice is the persistent cough. The sounds the dog makes are quite similar to a goose honk. At first, it might even seem funny, that is until you realize the poor things simply cannot stop coughing and it’s making him miserable.  Other symptoms resemble those of a common cold, such as:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Runny eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

There’s no need to rush to the vet though. If your dog appears to have kennel cough, you should try some easily available remedies. However, if they don’t work and the dog doesn’t seem to feel better in a day or two you should absolutely take him to the vet. 

How long does it last?

It will seem like an eternity, but generally speaking kennel cough resolves itself within three weeks. Medicines targeting the bacteria in his throat might speed up things. On the other hand, a senior dog with other pre-existing ailments might keep coughing up to six weeks. 

Vets often prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria and to prevent pneumonia. A young healthy animal might get over kennel cough even without antibiotics, but with an elderly dog with a weak immune system it is better not take any chances. 

Why might honey help kennel cough?

Honey can be used to treat kennel cough because of its antibacterial and antifungal properties. As the honey sticks to the dog’s throat for a long time it fights against the bacteria multiplying there. At the same time, honey is also a good source of antioxidants, enzymes and flavonoids which help strengthen the dog’s immune system. In a way, honey helps the dog fight the infection on his own. 

What kind of honey is good for kennel cough?

For this natural remedy to be effective, you need to make sure it’s as natural as possible. Many of the products sold as honey at the supermarket are far from the real deal. Commercial honey is full of added sugars and has little health benefits.

You should try to give your dog raw honey, preferably something produced locally not imported from China or other far away places.

Raw honey usually comes in a jar complete with a honeycomb. If you manage to get your hands on a jar of raw honey topped with polen, honeycomb and propolis, make sure to allow your dog to chew on these miraculous products. Propolis is also known to have antibacterial properties and is often used to soothe a sore throat in adults or children. 

If you’re wondering about a specific type of honey, then manuka honey is what you should be looking for if you want to help your dog beat the cough faster. 

How much honey should I use for kennel cough?

Exactly how much honey you should use to treat kennel cough depends on the size of your pet.

If you have a large dog, you can give him one tablespoon of honey per day. Make sure to give him the honey after a meal and after he’s had some water. You want the honey to coat his throat, not to be washed down by a few gulps of water. It might be a good idea to take his water away for no more than one hour, so the honey can have enough time to fight the bacteria in his throat.

A medium sized dog should get two teaspoons of honey, for instance one in the morning and one in the evening.

A small dog will require no more than one teaspoon of honey.

Most dogs adore the taste of honey, but if your pet is a particularly picky eater you can mix the honey with his regular food or hide it in one of his favorite treats.

On the other hand, when the dog is sick he has little appetite, so be patient with your dog. By the time he gets rid of the cough, he’ll love honey. 

What other natural remedies are there for kennel cough?

If you want to ease your dog’s symptoms, here are some other natural remedies you can use.

Coconut oil

If your dog has kennel cough, you can give him some coconut oil, which is known for its antiviral properties. Some dogs love the taste, some don’t, in which case, once again, hide it in a treat.

As a rule, you can give your dog two teaspoons of coconut oil per day, or just one if you have a small dog. 


This is another great natural remedy for kennel cough. Like coconut oil, cinnamon has antiviral properties and you need to tackle the viruses in his throat that have allowed the bacteria to take hold.

You should sprinkle half a  teaspoon of cinnamon over his regular food. If you know your dog to be a picky eater try putting just a dash of cinnamon at first, to see how he likes it. If he doesn’t object, increase the dose. You don’t want to see your dog refuse to eat when he already has a poor appetite because of the cough. 

Steam bath

That’s not exactly a natural remedy, but it is quite beneficial if your dog has a cough. The steam will loosen all the gunk in his throat allowing him to breathe better. How exactly do you give a dog a steam bath? Well, it doesn’t have to be him who’s taking a bath. You can take a hot shower, a very long one and simply invite the dog to sit with you in the bathroom. About 30 minutes should do it. If the room gets very hot, so will the dog probably. Make sure to bring his water bowl in the bathroom. When a dog is sick it is important to keep him well hydrated. 

Can I use over the counter medicines for kennel cough?

If you’re thinking about cough syrups, don’t try to give your dog any kind of such medicine for human consumption. Most cough syrups contain alcohol and are not suitable for dogs.

You can try giving your dog some Benadryl. This is an antihistamine and is used to treat allergies. It can alleviate such symptoms as runny eyes and nose. It might also make your dog a bit drowsy, which is not bad at this point. With all that coughing he probably has trouble sleeping anyway. 

Vets recommend a dosage of 1 mg per pound of body weight. If you have a 25 lbs dog, a 25 mg tablet should be enough. Or you can try children’s Benadryl syrup which doesn’t contain alcohol.

You can give your dog Benadryl once every 8-12 hours.  

What other illnesses might honey cure?

You can use honey to treat many conditions or at least to alleviate some symptoms.


Honey is good for allergies as it contains a bit of pollen. If your dog suffers from seasonal allergies, a teaspoon of honey twice a week cna help him become more resistant to allergies caused by pollen.

At the same time, honey is a good source of quercetin, which is a flavonoid with antihistamine properties, so it’s great for allergies. It can relieve symptoms such as watery eyes and itchy skin. 

Skin problems

As it’s a natural antiseptic, honey can be used to soothe problems caused by hot spots, eczema, insect bites or even scratches. 

Stomach problems

Honey contains both prebiotics and probiotics, so it’s very helpful if your dog has indigestion, diarrhea or constipation. 

Weight problems

Although honey is basically a sugar, it breaks down differently from processed sugar, A bit of honey can slow down the dog’s digestion and the conversion of sugar in the body, which can help you manage the dog’s weight problem 

Closing Thoughts:

Honey is a good natural remedy to try if your dog suffers from kennel cough. Honey has antiviral properties so it will help fight the infection in his throat. Alternatively, you can try coconut oil or cinnamon to ease the symptoms of the disease. 

At the same time, it’s always good to have some honey in your pantry as it can be also used to treat allergies, to alleviate skin problems or to fix an upset stomach. But, make sure it’s a good quality honey, preferably raw and organic. 

Photo credits

¹ Photo by Roberta Sorge on Unsplash

Sarah Pulsen

Hello, I have been in love with dogs since I was a little girl. I became even more infatuated with them when I was told by my Mum that I couldn't own one. Since I left home there has rarely been a time in my life when I have lived without a dog. My current dog is a Collie Terrier cross, called Ian.